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Distraction, Diversion And Dereliction: A Government With No Real-World Vision

By Loz Lawrey

In any democratic parliament, they waste so much space and time, bloviating incessantly and indulging in constant tribal self-aggrandisement.

Call them conservatives, right-wingers, contrarians, shallow-minded barbarians, knuckle-draggers, “Trumpanzees” (in the U.S.A.), “Morrison’s Morons”… call them whatever.

They’re a breed. Short on new ideas, but big on ideology and “belief”, they place little value upon facts and evidence.

How can in-depth thinking occur when so much available brainspace is already cluttered with Milton Friedman-style concepts of “free markets” and concerns over “political correctness”, bound together with the mortar of blind faith in an invisible, unprovable deity?

Political ideology and religious belief are siblings, really. How often in the past few years have we heard people say: “I don’t believe in climate change”?

I know I’ve often found myself shouting at the radio or TV: “It’s not a matter of belief! It’s evidence-based science!”

Mind you, I “believe” we all need a degree of “belief” just to get through the day. We have to “believe” in ourselves. We “believe” we’ll wake up tomorrow. When we start to think about belief we realise we’re already full of the stuff, in one way or another.

A mind already occupied by a fatalistic belief in “god’s plan” has little room for the creative thinking that leads to good policy development around nation-building or social equity… to governing, in other words.

Which brings me to… er… our current prime minister and his fellows in the “broad church” of the Morrison “government”.

While the Murdoch media trumpet Smuggo’s popularity with voters, I must say he appears to elicit the same outrage, anger and disgust from progressive Australians (roughly half the population) as did Anthony Abbott.

Does this make him vulnerable to a leadership challenge? If not now, then surely soon, when the gloss of his surprise electoral win loses the last of its sheen?

What will be the last straw for Morrison? I seem to remember that in Abbott’s case it was the offer of a knighthood to Prince Phillip that did the trick.

Australians (even the conservative right) had had enough.

Overnight, Malcolm Turnbull was dusted off and reinstated as coalition leader.

In Morrison’s case, just a few more weeks of non-response to the actual real-world burning of Australia may do the trick, while he focuses on ideological obsessions such as legislating “religious freedoms” (ie. entrenching religion’s right to discriminate in law) and repealing the humanitarian Medevac laws.

Scott Morrison is the embodiment of right-wing evangelical conservatism. He champions beer, barbies, and “belief”. Oh, and “the Sharks”…

Does he champion big ideas? Does he read books? Does he nurture an active imagination? Is he able to visualise a better Australia? Do his “values” include truly valuing ALL of us?

History tells us otherwise. After all, he’s the proud “I stopped the boats” guy, the man who takes pride in Australia’s offshore gulag detention regime where desperate refugees have been detained without hope (ie effectively abused and tortured) for years simply for arriving by boat without a visa.

Why weren’t they simply given visas and allowed to lodge asylum claims? If they’d come by plane, most would arrive with a visa in hand, as this government document from 2015 makes clear.

The whole mess around boat arrivals and offshore detention looks like nothing more than bureaucratic hair-splitting spin, designed to win the votes of bigots by demonising poor people fleeing war zones in search of a better life, as though they seek to invade our country in overwhelming numbers.

The absurd, disgusting, ongoing inhumane offshore detention regime, sustained as it is by the old canard of “border security”, seems to pander to some sort of racist bigotry.

Why must it be offshore? Why not onshore?

The whole cruel business has always been nothing more than theatre, a shadow play designed to create the impression of a government in control, a protective government caring for its citizens. Sadly, its impact upon the health of detainees, both physically and mentally, has been disastrous.

All this while implementing uncaring policies that effectively demonise poorer, unemployed and disadvantaged Australians, such as those receiving Newstart allowance.

Surely the imposition of the cashless welfare card will bring some Australians closer to a state of slavery, with authorities exercising control over the financial choices of individuals?`

As an evangelical Christian espousing “Prosperity Christianity”, Scott Morrison embraces a form of religious exclusivism that says: “my religion is the one true faith”. Surely the exclusion of atheists, non-believers and other “unworthies” is an unavoidable consequence of our pentecostalist prime minister’s worldview?

Does his “lifters and leaners” ideological judgement of each citizen’s social worthiness not stem directly from such exclusivist thinking?

Perhaps our country’s social cohesion relies upon shared concepts, such as the idea that we are all basically well-intended towards one another, or that acceptance and inclusion are natural expressions of our humanity.

Oops! That sounds awfully like a “leftie” or “leftard” perspective.

Rank socialism, even.

Is anyone else experiencing the current assault on progressive Australians? Members of the coalition government seem to regularly attack Australian citizens, demonising some as “lefties”, “activists” (how did that become a dirty word?), “leaners”, “greenies”.

How can a government of civilised beings make such statements, which effectively constitute an assault on half the population?

It’s not belief itself I have a problem with; it’s the displacement of thought, of analysis and consideration that I object to.

Personally, I rejected the “left, right” conceptual paradigm when Abbott came to power in 2013.

That’s when the political divide coalesced in my mind into “empaths vs sociopaths”.

A simplistic generalisation, I know, but it’s the only way I can explain the two conflicting mindsets constantly at war in the arena of our democracy.

Like the U.S.A., Australia has two political tribes, with the brains of conservatives wired one way and progressives the other.

Never the twain shall meet, so how do we resolve this?

Under our current system, half the population or the other is perpetually disgruntled and dissatisfied, if not living in a state of constant outrage and anger.

Meanwhile, so much government energy is spent on what is, at the end of the day, nothing more than ideological puff stuff such as “border security”, “religious freedom” and the “ensuring integrity” assault on workers’ rights.

Right-wing brain farts, long-winded complaints about “political correctness”, ministerial conflicts of interest and controversies… so much of our arena of public debate is filled with swirling nonsense, leaving little time for big ideas and policies for future-building.

What’s worse is the fact that Morrison’s ideological entrenchment results in the casual dismissal of everything he just doesn’t “get”. The arts, for example.

His closure of the Department of Communication and the Arts displays a gob-smacking barbarian ignorance, a complete lack of understanding as to the role of art in society and its contribution to our national well-being.

That ignorance alone should preclude him from holding public office. Without a clear perspective on the elements that contribute to a healthy, well-rounded national mindset, how can politicians come to terms with their own role and serve the public effectively?

And he’s the prime minister, the leader… Surely leadership requires something more than Morrison’s vacuous “beers, burgers and how good’s cricket?” approach?

Today, as large swathes of our nation burn, what is the Morrison government focused on?

Angus Taylor’s lies to parliament, the “religious freedom” legalisation of discrimination, the repeal of Medevac laws, the “ensuring integrity” attack on unions and the right of workers to organise… Integrity? One has to wonder if this government knows the meaning of the word.

Just listen to the likes of Morrison and his ministers when being interviewed. Do we hear a nation-building narrative? Do we hear about the search for solutions to address the great challenges of our time? Do we hear proposals for real-world action?

No, we don’t. We get evasion, distraction, diversion and dereliction of duty.

Australia’s greatest shame is its own government, the one it has chosen…

As Elvis once sang: “A little less conversation, a little more action, please!”

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  1. Wobbley

    Can we please have an in-depth, undner the skin review or investigation or article into the reasons the people who religiously, pun definitely intended, vote for fascism and why. You know, the gray nomads with they’re hundred thousand plus touring rigs, the franking credit bludgers, the investment property owners, the million dollar super holders, the volunteers covered in bling at your local hospital. I’m absolutely sure there’s more than money here, I think you’ll find a healthy dose of racism, bigotry, narccisism, and good old fashioned god, fairy. Oh and I forgot they’re nearly all WHITE!

  2. Jack Cade

    I see the Greens have finally accepted that giving Toby Abbott the top job by knocking back Rudd’s policies might have been (it WAS) a f#ckup.
    As a natural Green who will never vote for them I say ‘F#ck yez all.’
    Apologies to Jeff Fenech for the paraphrase.

  3. New England Cocky

    The Gladly-back-flip-I-can NSW Liarbral Nasty Party misgovernment has followed their Federal colleagues in ignoring the present climate and fire emergency impacting the length of the East Coast.

    The 2019-2020 NSW Budget slashed 75% of the operational funding for the RFS, equivalent to about 100 full-time firies and 50 appliances and DENIED RFS VOLUNTEERS GOVERNMENT FUNDED WORKERS COMPENSATION.

  4. crypt0

    Loz, you have rather concisely described SmirkyMcSmirkFace and his fellow travellers to a tee.
    Re the “integrity”assault on workers’ rights … this is the “government” elected just six months ago … are there no longer any workers in this country?
    And when it comes to Australian citizens abandoned in Syria, Julian Assange abandoned to his fate at the hands of the UK and the US, various other nationals similarly abandoned overseas, “‘Straya’s dereliction of duty re climate change, our overseas gulags for refugees, treat and countless other examples … when is ‘Straya going to take responsibility for … well, anything?
    That will be the day that I start thinking …”Well, maybe we’re not completely stuffed”
    As they say …In a democracy you get the “government” you deserve … or at least quite a lot of you do.
    PLUS … What Wobbley said.

  5. Annette Spendlove

    Jack Cade – interesting remark. What ever the Greens did 10 years ago, Abbott would have destroyed any attempt to mitigate climate change.
    I find it rather astonishing that people keep harping on about this, as if no other party has ever made a mistake.
    Be you natural self – become a Green, don’t let something from 10 years ago interfere with your natural inclination. And don’t be influenced by the hideous lnp and the Murdoch press, both of which have a very nasty agenda.

  6. Jack Cade

    Annette Spendlove.

    Thank you for your advice. Excuse me if I don’t take it.
    The Greens are a moribund group in this country. I will go further and say that not only did they make an Abbott government possible, Bob Browns caravan destroyed Shorten.
    The Greens passionate virginity turned out to have fcked the entire country.

  7. Roswell

    Nicely (is that the right word?) said, Loz.

    You sound pissed-off. I’ve read your work here before: You know how to string a few words together when you’re pissed-off.

    Keep being pissed-off.

    We all need to be pissed-off.

  8. Terence Mills

    This mob seem to think that the Handmaid’s tale is a blueprint for their vision for a dystopean future for their Australia.

    When I first came to Australia as a young man in the early nineteen sixties, the first job I applied for, for which I was reasonably qualified , included a questionnaire asking among other things, what was my religion. The interviewer – this was not a religious organisation – questioned my answer of ‘Christian’ and told me that was not a religion and lectured me on following a true religion [his religion].

    I was dumbfounded even at that age at the impertinence of this oaf who sought to impose his religiosity on a prospective employee : I didn’t get the job.

    Looks as though we are marching backwards to the crusades.

    I feel sorry for the children in our community and I don’t believe that this sort of regressive legislation does anything for the women’s movement – these guys are fundamentalists !

  9. Patricia

    Annette Spendlove,

    You might recall that in the run up to the election in May 2019 Di Natale stated quite clearly that if the ALP won government the Greens would not support climate change legislation unless it met their strict criteria.

    Not only did they refuse to support bringing Australia into the 21st century 10 years ago based on their ideology but they would still refuse unless it was exactly what they demanded.

    Pragmatism is acknowledging that getting something is better than getting nothing, at least getting some of what you want there is a base on which to build.

    The Greens have gone backwards and that is because they are not seen to be anything close to mainstream but so ideologically driven such as to refuse to acknowledge that we live in a real world, not one that conforms to an ideological belief.

  10. gaele maat

    Jack Cade, your comments are so sensible I’d like to friend you on facebook. Will that be OK?

  11. TuffGuy

    Scott Morrison is the embodiment of right-wing evangelical conservatism. He champions beer, barbies, and “belief”. Oh, and “the Sharks”
    Following the Engadine incident I believe they are now called the SHARTS

  12. Andrew J Smith

    US theologian Chris Hedges explains well:

    ‘Hedges, who grew up in rural parishes in upstate New York where his father was a Presbyterian pastor, attacks the movement as someone steeped in the Bible and Christian tradition. He points to the hundreds of senators and members of Congress who have earned between 80 and 100 percent approval ratings from the three most influential Christian Right advocacy groups as one of many signs that the movement is burrowing deep inside the American government to subvert it. The movement’s call to dismantle the wall between church and state and the intolerance it preaches against all who do not conform to its warped vision of a Christian America are pumped into tens of millions of American homes through Christian television and radio stations, as well as reinforced through the curriculum in Christian schools. The movement’s yearning for apocalyptic violence and its assault on dispassionate, intellectual inquiry are laying the foundation for a new, frightening America.’

  13. corvus boreus

    Jack Cade,
    I am a person who has devoted both my adult career and significant volunteer efforts towards environmental protection and restoration, which would also make me also a ‘natural Green’.
    However, some realities do intrude.
    Firstly, I understand that, beyond the party labels, there are all the different details of party ‘principles and policies’ (with which I may have differing degrees of agreement and dissonance), as well as grasping the basic fact that the realities of grotty politics may sometimes cause a party (or it’s reps) to veer from both stated principle and policies.
    Also, I also understand that the quality of candidature within each of the political parties can be hugely variable, and that it is often/usually decided by cynical inner-party factional deals and machinations rather than any merit-based examination of qualificative pedigrees or proven performance .
    Given these existent variables, rather than making any blanket ‘I won’t vote for brand X’ statements, I tend to strive to undertake some level of investigative research and vote for the candidates (both lower and upper house) who seem like the least crap options in semi-palatable parts of the buffet.
    Ps, In recent practice, this mostly involves casting votes in the direction of reasonably worthy independents

  14. Kerri

    Morrison’s faith leads him to believe that his success, is because god loves him.
    He also believes that those who are poor, downtrodden, fallen on hard times simply have not ”tithed” enough or prayed enough. Not that his lying cheating and general malicious manipulation of fact has made him successful or that their bad luck (or his poor management) has been the source of their lack of success. (Nay! Keeping the poor downtrodden allows scum to rise to the top by climbing upon the shoulders of those less fortunate. Such philosophies deserve cancer.)
    He has a bit of the Mother Theresa about him. She who famously said
    “There is something beautiful in seeing the poor accept their lot, to suffer it like Christ’s passion,”
    ie; he gets off on seeing others suffer as it makes his self perception more saintly.
    When the world is viewed through such a staunchly religious lens it leaves no room for fact or science.
    Faith is everything and everything is faith.
    So caught up in the rites and rituals of the past that he, and his religious mates, fail to recognise the world has moved on and the world has changed and the world is far more informed and educated than those who have spent their lives clapping, singing and praying. And not clapping and singing at people like Tim Minchin.
    If there is a god, ScoMo will get his comeuppances.
    His record so far, is evidence that there is not!

  15. Wam

    Wow jack it is only that your words make sense that I know you are not wam’s alias.
    The natural greens who support the modern greens are simpletons conned by their own ideals.
    The modern greens are led by a narrow nose sharpie.
    Their caravan got the money but lost any relevance in the parliament. I poker terms they are drawing dead.

  16. Just Another Grandmother

    How serious does their “incompetence” have to be before it morphs into “criminal negligence” ? Just asking !!!

  17. whatever

    Some people have invited the RightWing Media to live in their brains, hence when they see a group of environmentalists they immediately think “A CARAVAN of activists….”, whereas a group of farmers going to Canberra to protest is a good ol’ “CONVOY”.

  18. johno

    @whatever… good point

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